Blessings Mashaya 5 May 2017
HARARE – The Tobacco Sales Floors (TSF) premises were turned into a war
zone yesterday as police fought running battles with angry farmers who
staged a demonstration demanding their cash from banks.
Police tears-gased and thrashed the desperate farmers in a mayhem which
left some injured and properties destroyed.
The skirmishes erupted after the police tried to violently block the
farmers who had besieged the banks – located inside TSF complex.
In reaction, the restive farmers started throwing stones and bricks at the
riot police, who in return started firing teargas and beating them with
The Daily News team which visited the scene heard the police shouting
“munhu wese kumba pano hapashandike (everyone must go home now”.
Frustrated farmers who spoke to the Daily News confirmed that they had
battled over the past month to access their money from both banking halls
and automated teller machines (ATMs).
This has seen many of them sleeping out in the open on empty stomachs, as
they waited to access their money.
“Hurumende yedu haichadi vanhu yakutirwisa Smith aiva nani (The government
is now fighting us. The Smith regime was better).
“We have spent more than two weeks here and we are getting $100 from
banks,” a farmer who refused to be named said.
Another old-aged woman, who preferred anonymity, showed the Daily News
receipts of her tobacco sold on March 22 for $5 000 but she was yet to get
“I come from Karoi. I am getting $100 daily but the problem is that there
are people who helped us they are also demanding their money and this
situation is destroying agriculture,” she said.
Recently, tobacco farmers disrupted auctions, after the Tobacco Industry
and Marketing Board sanctioned a Zimra directive to withhold 10 percent
tax on their gross tobacco sales.
The government was later forced to reverse the decision following a
meeting between Agriculture minister Joseph Made and his Finance
counterpart Patrick Chinamasa, after the farmers threatened to withhold
their produce in protest.
This comes as Zimbabwe’s economy continues to die – as manifested by
rising poverty levels, worsening job losses and severe cash shortages –
with the government showing signs of panic, amid fresh warnings by experts
that the country is headed for an economic disaster akin to the meltdown
It also comes as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has set the maximum limit
for cash back facilities by retailers and wholesalers at $20, as
authorities desperately try to mitigate the country’s worsening cash
crisis which is forcing long-suffering Zimbabweans to spend hours at banks
queuing for their money.